Vision & Learning

My Child Is Near-Sighted. Will Glasses Correct His/Her Learning Problem?

There is controversy in the exact relationship of vision to learning. For example there is a negative correlation between distance refractive error and reading ability. Myopic or nearsighted children who cannot see clearly at a distance without glasses are more commonly good readers. Children who spend tremendous amounts of time reading become nearsighted. Before Alaska became a state myopia was rare. After becoming a state, more than 50 percent of the children in Alaska developed nearsightedness. Thus, correlation is such that nearsightedness or poor distance vision is highly correlated with success in reading. Restated another way, poor distance vision is associated with better reading abilities. Farsighted children statistically are poorer readers than myopic children.

What is the Relationship between Eye Muscle Problems and Learning?

Some of the mechanical visual skills which are related to reading include focusing or accommodation, and eye teaming, or convergence. Fatigue of one or both the systems may interfere with reading. There is also a relationship between eye movement skills such as saccades (whereby we change fixation from one target to the next) and smooth following movements known as pursuits and reading. Children who cannot make accurate eye movements are often found to skip lines and words while reading.

The visual system was originally designed so that the peripheral vision was responsive to motion detection (danger from the jungles) with a central portion for fine discrimination (to identify the source of danger; e.g., a lion.) In the school environment the child is expected to ignore the peripheral portion of their visual system and pay attention with the central portion. If the child can not ignore the peripheral portion, he/she becomes distracted.

My Child Loses His/Her Place. Is That Related to the Eyes?

Reading requires very accurate saccadics, which are fixations from one spot to another. A second type of eye movement which involves tracking is, also, related to attention and reading. Children who have poor eye movements are easily distracted and loose their place. Remember, the eye movement system was designed so that peripheral vision detects motion and danger. Imagine what happens when the system works correctly in the class room. As soon as there is peripheral movement, the eyes move toward the source of movement.

 

My Child Reverses Letters and Words. Does He See Backwards?

It has been presumed that children who reverse letters or words see them backwards. This is false. They have directional confusion. In the real world direction has no meaning. For example, a chair is a chair no matter which way it is placed. Changing direction does not change interpretation.

What Are the Other Visual Components Necessary for Academic Achievement?

As mentioned previously, we should correct all optical errors of the eyes (glasses); eliminate eye muscle problems; and create smooth accurate eye movements. In addition, we should make sure that we properly interpret what we see and use it appropriately. These are known collectively as perceptual skills and include form perception, size and shape recognition, visual memory, and visual motor integration (hand-eye coordination.)

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